A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Book review


1. I’ve stopped reading fiction books for some time now. I prefer autobiographies as it gives me a glimpse into a person’s life. It’s almost like peering into a persons brain and getting a moral of the story for their entire life. Just imagine if you had to write your autobiography today – how many chapters could you write? Do you have anything interesting to say? Would someone care to read about you?

2. I read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain for a totally different reason. I had gone to Berkeley with B some time back and was hanging out with her friends, of which one, K, was a very interesting person. While we were sitting watching an intense tennis match between Cals Pedro Zerbini and USC’s Steve Johnson, K and me were discussing about books and I asked her, if she had to recommend one awesome book that she had read and absolutely loved, which one would it be. And she suggested this one.

3. Let me see. If I had to say two things I disliked about the book, one would be the language. Most of it is simple enough to follow, but here and there, Twain would break into Old archaic english which I would find impossible to comprehend. Read the following excerpt from the book and you’ll see what I mean.

..Merlin the mighty liar and magician perdition singe him for the weariness he worketh with his one tale! But that men fear him for that he hath the storms and the lightnings and all the devils that be in hell at his beck and call, they would have dug his entrails out these many years ago to get at that tale and squelch it. He telleth it always in the third person making believe he is too modest to glorify himself – maledictions light upon him, misfortune be his dole! Good friend, prithee call me for evensong.

See what I mean?

And secondly, its like a hindi movie. There’s this guy who goes back in time and becomes King Arthur’s right hand man and sets up industries, schools, patent offices and even a news agency. That’s all fine, but there are hardly any details mentioned of how he does it. I guess it’s too much to ask from one book, but hey, I like the occasional detail so that I can believe the story.

On the other hand, I can say two things I really liked from the book. The first would be Mr. Twain’s satire. He does a really good job of taking a humorous jab at various ideas from religion, chivalry, social hierarchy and economy. For example, it was interesting to see how he convinces all the knights, including Sir Lancelot,  to shift from riding horses to bicycles and uses them as traveling salesmen for his goods.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - sir lancelot bicycle

The second thing I liked, was that it’s basically an entrepreneurship story. It’s like throwing Steve Jobs in King Arthur’s court. Hell, you can imagine what Steve would do. In the story, the first thing Hank does as soon as he becomes “The Boss” is to set up a patent office. And the next thing? Set up phone lines through the entire country. After a while,  I would imagine the main character as Steve Jobs and that made the entire book so much more interesting..

Some interesting quotes:

  • You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
  •  Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.
  • Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
  • All gentle cant and philosophizing to the contrary notwithstanding, no people in this world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it being immutable law that all revolutions that will succeed, must begin in blood.

And one I like best..

  • My heart got to thumping. You can’t reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.

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4 Responses to “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Book review”

  1. Anwar Bhamla July 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    If you like, Twain, try reading “letters from the Earth”. Definitely in my top 10 books. And it will take you only a couple of hours to read.

    • admin July 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

      Looks interesting. Will check it out. Thanks!

  2. Anantjeet kaur August 4, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    looking for satire? catch-22, if you havent read that already. 😛

    • Saad Bhamla August 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

      Oh yeah. That was a good one. Although I forget if I watched the movie or read the book..